In a breath of deep sickness

In a breath of deep sickness you feel the appendages of your body as small stubs barely propping your thin shirt out into a windblown landscape, but in the mountain starlight rising, a faint speech of light, you see them fully formed and shading through the outerspace of desert evening, albeit slenderly like dried liquid flesh over bones. You sank below the crest of one last dune and the smoke above the reflected green of John’s white eyes hung in a corona over the dune and the empty straight line of his mouth cleaved your eyes. When you breathed you coughed sand. The green smoke rose to tie across the Milky Way in the sash of a foggy icon that you could only see by looking briefly, then away, so that your mind could tease its image out of the apparent emptiness. You rose again slowly up the last windward slope and his face, malevolent or tormenting in the distance, was merely bored and prone to staring as you approached. The shrug of the end, or the confluence of these trajectories, was dim and long. It was too ordained to awaken his lust and sour saliva. Out here where you could see things coming for hours there were no black thrills in the geometric inevitabilities of your choices. Even if this energy was to coalesce to him, he couldn’t be moved beyond the languid narcosis of his fated gaping pupils that could trace only the edges of your clothes, translucent with the rising phosphorescence of the sand. You brushed his dungarees with your knuckles as you got into the car. His jacket and its weathered seams remained pressed against the back passenger side window with their folds unshifting as he continued watching the eastern wall of the valley. His hands and head were lost beyond the reflective glass. When the moon dawn feathered a blue tide over the profile of the Funeral Mountains John’s jacket pulled away from the glass and you could see the valley faintly washing toward you beyond the green glass, beyond your mucus green and run down face as it began to tumble past you like viscous ocean swells as John drove back to the main road and then south again, back down where the moonlight began to pool as it crested the mountains like a scalpel or its own reflection in black bile.

A moment later, an instant, John pulled you from the car at the head of a prie dieu of a parking lot below Zabriskie Point and ushered you down beneath the moon’s blade again on scratched trails further and further below the badlands. He was out in front of you with his arm thrown back and his fingers around your forearm.

The exposure of the blue night for day was held in the spongy runnels of the formations where shade became shadow and the bruises on you both became sunken pits and the sky, showing like a torn pennant out over Badwater Basin at the outlet of this lowest wash was the deepest afternoon blue without context over the dim canyonette.

The large gravel turned under your feet and you leaned against the steeply sloping wall to breathe through the sand and phlegm. You breath crackled. John faced the opposite wall and you traced the seams of his jacket stitched in the blue glow as his shoulders tensed forward and then fell backward as he ran black falling his heels racing toward you until his back pressed against your chest and his ass against your pubis and his heels ground into the large gravel by the sound. The back of your head yielded slightly into the soft sedimentary wall and stopped, then your face began to yield to the back of his head, your chest to his back, and your burned soft flesh opened like the glistening tongue of a shimmering mollusk being folded open and wrapped around its own crumbling shell until it slid into John with oily force until he ground against the wall and not Jack any longer and his heels had dug through to the crusty mud below the gravel.

The valley was swollen with morning when he scrambled up the back side of the point and over to the car. He felt something like burning salt water rushing in a torrent down the back of the inside of his ribcage when he sat down in the driver’s seat.

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